La Liga

Method in madness of PRIN$$ to Barcelona

 • by Mark Thompson
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While Kevin-Prince Boateng’s move to Barcelona certainly has him living his life like a king, it’s left the rest of the footballing world a little confused.

The 31-year-old has been bumping around lower-half teams in the top leagues for the past few years. Sassuolo was his latest stop, following Eintracht Frankfurt and Las Palmas, before Barcelona came a-knocking.

However, things make a lot more sense when you take a look at the January transfer rumour mill.

Within the space of a week, the Catalan club were linked with Fernando Llorente, Olivier Giroud and former-Watford forward Odion Ighalo. It’s healthy to be sceptical in the transfer window but this was a pattern that shouldn’t be ignored.

Boateng has played something of a target-man this season, with aerial play and chance creation making up significant parts of his game for Sassuolo.

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He’s already showing his worth in the role — or, at least, showing that that’s how Barcelona plan to use him. He was targeted by Barça six times in his 63 minutes in the Copa del Rey against Sevilla.

The interesting thing is that this really seems to be the direction that Ernesto Valverde is going down. Barcelona — who are leading La Liga with a gap of five points to second place — are still a heavy possession team, but perhaps they feel like they need a plan B.

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It’s unsurprising considering the all-time heights they reached under Pep Guardiola, but the club has felt like it’s been struggling to live up to expectations for some time.

Perhaps they fear that they will no longer be able to play opponents off the park with their possession-based game.

Boateng isn’t just a lump up-front either. He’s played in a variety of positions during his career and even in the past few years has switched roles quite dramatically.

At Las Palmas he appeared to be more of a traditional forward, then something completely different at Frankfurt, before his current iteration at Sassuolo (and now Barça).

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This isn’t to say that the PRIN$$ will turn into a kingly transfer, but there is method to Barcelona’s apparent madness.

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